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18 June, 2024
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Health Ministry calling on public to avail of free flu shots

Concerns rise as measures against the COVID-19 pandemic cause increased vulnerability to influenza

Source: CNA

Cyprus’ Ministry of Health, calls on members of the public, regardless of age, or if they belong to a high-risk group, to contact their GP for a flu vaccine for free, in a bid to reduce pressure on the healthcare system. The Ministry stresses that the flu vaccine is safe and effective, while its side effects are relatively rare and mild.

According to data from the Ministry's influenza surveillance system, an announcement said, the occurrence of influenza in Cyprus usually begins with a small percentage of cases from the end of Autumn and peaks in the months of January-February.

The Ministry said, however, that, in the current period, due to lower exposure to the influenza virus because of measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, the public is more vulnerable to influenza.

According to recent data, influenza activity continues to increase across the European region, with earlier seasonal activity compared to periods before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry explains that influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause mild to very severe illness. Most healthy people get over the flu without complications. However, the elderly, young children and people with underlying conditions are more likely to develop severe diseases with a greater risk of complications.

It adds that inoculation with the influenza vaccine is particularly important for those in high-risk groups such as people over the age of 65, people with chronic health problems (asthma or other chronic lung diseases, heart diseases, immunosuppression, organ transplantation, sickle cell disease, diabetes mellitus, morbid obesity, chronic kidney disease and liver disease, neuromuscular or neurological diseases), pregnant women and adults and children taking aspirin long-term.

It is also recommended for children over 6 months to 15 years, workers in health care facilities, caregivers of people with an underlying illness, people working or residing in community quarters such as staff and students of boarding schools, military and police academies, inmates and staff of other facilities and recruits in the armed forces. Professionals such as veterinarians, poultry farmers, pig farmers, butchers and people who come into contact with birds are also recommended to get a flu shot.

In the event that people are not beneficiaries of the General Health System (GeSY), they may contact the Health Ministry’s Adult Vaccination Centres or the Maternity Protection and Child Welfare Centres.

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